President Barack Obama pledged we’d be out of Afghanistan by 2016, but yesterday announced a “modest but meaningful extension of our presence” — keeping the 10,000 troops currently stationed there for all of 2016, and then, in perpetuity, maintaining a force five times larger than previously planned.
Why? Because, after 14 years of conflict and nation-building, Afghanistan is still neck-deep in violence. Last month, the Taliban briefly captured Kunduz, a city of over 250,000 people. Going forward, Obama admitted, “There will continue to be contested areas.”
The Afghan government is not self-sustainable and nobody seems to know how many years or decades or centuries that might take to achieve.
Meanwhile, over in Syria, the U.S. cannot train more than four or five moderate soldiers after much bluster and promise — and splurging a cool $500 million.
The U.S. invaded and “regime-changed” Iraq, helping shape a new government and national army. With all that effort — a cost of thousands of lives — once our soldiers weren’t doing the daily fighting to tamp down the bloody sectarian chasm, ISIS formed, the Iraqi army ran away and the country soon collapsed into civil war.
The Iraq Conquest put southern Iraq into Iranian orbit. How many lives was that worth?
The problem? Not military incompetence. The mission is the problem. Has any politician or military leader plausibly put forth a plan whereby our country’s intervention actually creates an improved and sustainable political order in any of these nations?
If so, let’s see it.
If not, why are our soldiers still in harm’s way?
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.